I am one of those quilters who has to have something playing in the background as I work. My preference is for sports, almost any sport. Baseball, softball, tennis, football (college or pro), ice hockey, college basketball (women or men), Olympics, ... even golf if I have no other choice. If there are no sports on, I'll find some kind of music, but sports is better. I played field hockey, basketball, and volleyball in high school, and field hockey in college, but I have never considered myself an athlete. I played for fun, and happily now watch true professionals show their grace and talent and hard work. With sports on, I can sit and hand quilt or piece for hours on end.
I also am in awe of those quilters who do their work so precisely, so flawlessly, that their quilts are true works of art. I'm looking forward to going to the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza in a couple of weeks. I'll take my camera, and look in wonder at all the gorgeous quilts on display, and make note of a number of patterns that will go on my "I'll make one of those someday" list.
But make no mistake, I am quite happy to be the quilter I am. Oh, sure, I would like to learn new techniques; someday I'll tackle a Bargello, someday I hope to try sewing curved seams, and my triangles are still works in progress. I make cozy quilts that will never be considered works of art, and that's okay. I recently made a baby blanket (only two layers, so not a quilt) for a friend's niece. She thanked me for it and said it was so pretty she'd hang it in the nursery. My immediate reaction was, okay, but it was constructed to take the beating that children's blankets tend to get. Only wall hangings get sleeves; everything else I make I expect to be used, frequently. It's okay to throw my quilts in the washing machine and dryer, because that means the quilt is being used and loved. That's the biggest compliment someone can give me for a quilt I've made.
So my latest project has been preemie quilts: tiny quilts, 20" on a side, intended for incubators and take-home. I have four done so far:
They are so addictive, as they take so little time to construct the top. And now that I have a walking foot for my sewing machine, I can machine quilt them pretty quickly, too. (The blue one above is hand quilted, as it was originally just a project to practice my running stitches.) It's so very tempting to keep making more, especially as the group is trying to collect 150 by December to distribute to hospitals for Christmas. (Hence the Christmas theme on some.) So this afternoon I started piecing yet another, and have fun Christmas fabric picked out to make more as the Fall goes on. It's nice to have so many finished projects!
All these little projects are done while I work on bigger ones. I am in the middle of piecing a scrappy quilt top, throw size, no specific recipient, based on the cover quilt of the August 2011 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting:
I grabbed all the less-than-one-eighth-yard scraps from my scrap pile, started cutting them into 1.5" x 5.5" strips, and sorted them into 'light' and 'dark' piles. I'm aiming for 12 blocks wide by 15 blocks long, which will make it slightly smaller than the twin size directions in the magazine.
I'm adding in my own touches, however. The butterflies were made after a discussion in one of the Facebook quilting groups about simple patterns for butterfly blocks. I kind of created a simplified block of my own, had so much fun I made several, then realized they were the exact size to add to this scrappy quilt. I'm also including several 5.5" squares of fabric that have fun prints, like the books and the parasols. Then there are the "baked goods" squares that are also thrown in occasionally. This is one five-row section of the quilt that's done so far:
Okay, enough of a break; back to sewing! :)